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How Companies sell off valuable art to cut office space and raise revenue



David Heffel, president of the Heffel Fine Art Auction House, at the gallery in Toronto, on Oct. 16, 2020.

Mark Blinch/The Globe and Mail

Dev Ramsumair got a call from a law firm in September on his first day as curator at the Art Gallery of Mississauga.

“The lawyers were moving to smaller offices and wanted to donate 50 paintings,” Mr. Ramsumair said. So the first task for the curator, who has worked at galleries in New York and Philadelphia and at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, was cataloging and valuing the pieces, restoring some and finding space to exhibit them. The collection includes works from Ontario landscape painter George Raab and B.C. artist Pat Service.

Mr. Ramsumair and other art experts say the donation is among the first in a wave of pandemic-induced art divestments from corporate Canada.

As the global health crisis led to an increase in working from home, many companies said they plan to permanently reduce the number of employees in office towers. The transformation is playing out at banks, insurers, law firms and accounting practices that are home to some of the country’s largest art collections. Having far less real estate means fewer walls to hang paintings.

“The way we use office space is changing,” said Rob Cowley, president of Cowley Abbott Fine Art.

Corporations routinely sell significant pieces – Calgary-based TC Energy Corp. is offering an Emily Carr oil painting called Forest Glade at a Cowley Abbott auction in December, and the auctioneer predicts the work will fetch $150,000. However, Mr. Cowley said, while TC Energy has been selling pieces as part of a strategic, multiyear process to manage its collection, many companies are likely to part with long-held paintings simply because they no longer have a place to show them.

“We expect to see stunning corporate collections come to market over the next few years,” said David Heffel, president of Heffel Gallery Ltd.

He said the Vancouver-based auction house is already doing preliminary work with a handful of Canadian companies, cataloging their pieces ahead of planned moves to smaller office space. Mr. Heffel said the pandemic is creating a sense of urgency around decision-making, and “where art may have been put in storage in the past, corporate clients are now looking to monetize earlier, rather than later.”

Corporate collections are also being culled at businesses looking to cut costs and raise money during what many expect will be a prolonged economic downturn. In June, cash-strapped British Airways announced it would sell some of the most valuable works from a 1,500-piece collection, including paintings by U.K. artists such as Damien Hirst, Bridget Riley and Peter Doig, which auction house Sotheby’s says are worth a total of $1.7-million or more. While the art sale, which was prompted by an employee suggestion, will do little to fix the finances of an airline burning through $290-million each week, the move was seen as symbolically important for a company seeking government and public support.

Canadian businesses will be selling their Group of Seven, Emily Carr and Jean-Paul Riopelle works at a time when demand from private collectors is soaring, gallery owners say. Mr. Cowley said with the pandemic forcing everyone to spend more time at home, some wealthy individuals want to upgrade the art they look at each day. “We’ve been very fortunate, during COVID, to see increased engagement with many collectors,” he said.

A number of Canadian businesses have built deep collections over several decades, and sales would shake up the art market, if experience is any guide. The high water mark for a Canadian painting was set in 2016, when a Lawren Harris work called Mountain Forms sold at a Heffel auction for $11.2-million. The painting was owned by Imperial Oil Ltd., and went on the block after the company left office towers in Calgary and Toronto for a campus in the Calgary suburbs. As part of the downsizing, Imperial Oil sold more than 4,000 works.

The quality of corporate collections is all over the map, the AGM’s Mr. Ramsumair said. Some reflect the personal tastes of one buyer – typically the founder – and don’t age well. At the other extreme are professionally curated collections that rival any museum – a decade back, the AGM played host to a show of paintings owned by Royal Bank of Canada.

As a rule, “pieces that are timeless, or push boundaries, will retain their appeal,” Mr. Ramsumair said. “There will be less interest in works from artists that were simply of a time.”

Art is an “invisible” asset on most company’s balance sheets, Mr. Heffel said. Tax laws allow companies to depreciate the value of their art by 20 per cent each year. That means over time, a painting may rise in value on the market, but be marked down to nothing on a corporate balance sheet.

To date, Canadian gallery owners say, financial distress is not driving the corporate art divestments. Mr. Heffel said most companies that sell art donate some or all of the proceeds to charities.



Source:- The Globe and Mail

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ART SEEN: Rare works by Charles Edenshaw head to market at Art Toronto – Vancouver Sun



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Of the 15 to 16 pieces available for sale during that time, he’s been able to acquire all but a couple of them.

He said while there’s an “enormous level of curiosity” in Edenshaw’s work, the market “is in its infancy in a sense.

“I guess I have to say Art Toronto is a way to test the waters,” he said.

“In all likelihood, I might end up donating five or six works to the National Gallery or to (Vancouver Art Gallery) subject to what happens with the building.”

Headdress Frontlet, wood, paint, abalone shell and metal mirror, Nuxalk, circa 1870, is in an exhibition by Donald Ellis Gallery at ArtTO. jpg

DEG is showing 19th century ledger drawings which were made by largely anonymous Indigenous artists from the Great Plains nations such as the Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Lakota.

In many of them, horses figure prominently. When the animal was introduced by the Spanish to the Comanche in the 17th century, Ellis said, it led to major changes among all the aboriginal people in what later became the U.S..

Ellis said ledger drawings are “one of the most important aspects of North American art history and most people don’t even know they exist.”

They’re called ledger drawings because accounting ledger books were a major source of paper for Indigenous people.

“The drawings are both records of actual events and articulate the cumulative acquisition of spiritual power and status,” the Donald Ellis Gallery said in a news release.

Donald Ellis Gallery will donate 10 per cent of all sales to Canadian organizations addressing the legacy of residential schools, supporting Indigenous education and mental health, and promoting reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. The gallery said clients can choose to support one of the following charitable organizations:

Indspire, The Legacy of Hope Foundation, or The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund.

Art Toronto is from Wednesday, Oct.28 to Sunday, Nov. 8.

Ledger Drawing, anonymous artist, Sheridan Ledger Book, Southern Cheyenne, circa 1885, graphite and coloured pencil on lined paper, in a digital edition of ArtTO 2020 in an exhibition by Donald Ellis Gallery, Oct. 31 to Nov. 8.
Ledger drawing, graphite and coloured pencil on lined paper, anonymous artist, Southern Cheyenne, circa 1885, is in an exhibition by Donald Ellis Gallery at ArtTO Oct. 28 to Nov. 8. Photo by John Taylor /jpg


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Stories in the stitch: East Coast woman creates art in embroidery –



With the fabric secured tightly between the two plastic hoops, Brianna Henry stares at the circle.

It’s how she starts every embroidery project because, with endless options, her creations are limitless.

“A lot of my designs are inspired by the particular fabric I use, or the colours I’m inspired by. Sometimes, I sketch an idea out on the fabric and it goes OK,” she said with a chuckle.

Five fast facts about Brianna Henry

  1. Works as a social media manager
  2. Started embroidering three years ago
  3. Her embroidery business is called Hoop and Holler
  4. Her Instagram is @_hoopandholler
  5. She enjoys creating wreaths and bouquets by layering threads and designs

Brianna Henry, 27, started embroidery three years ago as a way to relax and unwind. Since then, she's started a small business selling her designs.  - Millicent Mckay
Brianna Henry, 27, started embroidery three years ago as a way to relax and unwind. Since then, she’s started a small business selling her designs. – Millicent Mckay

When Henry first started her embroidery hobby about three years ago, she was looking for something to do creatively with her hands. One night while her husband was out, she asked him to pick up some supplies.

“I bought a couple of patterns online. Soon, I was doing it constantly. And while I was really enjoying it, I wasn’t very good. I’d never stitched anything before,” said the 27-year-old.

“It takes patience and practice. You really need to be devoted to it to get better.”

Soon, she was reading through a book of stitches, detailing the different types and techniques.

It’s a slow art, she said; it’s not something a person can pick up and finish within an hour.

“The first pieces I started were floral bouquets. I basically would rough outline and then fill it in as I went. I’d work with different colours of threads and details.”

Brianna Henry creates texture in her embroidery pieces by using different thicknesses of thread, colours, and stitches.  - Millicent Mckay
Brianna Henry creates texture in her embroidery pieces by using different thicknesses of thread, colours, and stitches. – Millicent Mckay

As she continued to hone her craft, people would tell her that her embroidery pieces were beautiful and that she should consider selling them.

“I was asked to recreate a bridal bouquet for a wedding commission. Monograms as well. You can customize each creation. It makes a good keepsake, even hanging decorations in a newborn’s room.”

But selling her work didn’t come immediately.

“I was nervous to put anything out. People said they were good, but I wasn’t sure they were good enough.”

Another Island maker asked her if she ever considered entering an Etsy pop-up or starting her own Etsy store. That interaction helped her gain more confidence to start a business, Hoop and Holler.

Brianna Henry works on an embroidery piece at the P.E.I. Fox Den, an artisan shop located just outside of Summerside, where her pieces are available for sale.  - Millicent Mckay
Brianna Henry works on an embroidery piece at the P.E.I. Fox Den, an artisan shop located just outside of Summerside, where her pieces are available for sale. – Millicent Mckay

Of all of the embroidery she creates, Henry said likes the different wreathes she can make by designing flower patterns and bouquets.

“It’s all about layering. I love the texture in pieces I can create by using different thicknesses of thread. It’s always fun. Every piece depends on what works for you and what works for the piece.”

The practice of embroidering is relaxing, she said.

“Any craft where you can use your hands, focus on it, but then still have the opportunity to have the tv going or listen to music while you work… there’s nothing better than embroidering while you’re under a cozy blanket with a cup of tea by you and a movie on.”

She said she’d like to start working on more personalized pieces, a trend that she’s seeing among makers.

“I feel like embroidered flowers and greenery are always going to be popular. But I’ve seen lately people are using thread to paint a picture rather than use traditional stitches. People are getting portraits made or even pet portraiture. So, a piece of thread will have six individual strands, and then an artist will use those six strands to start the project. Adding a more authentic texture to what the picture is of.”

Getting started

  • Get a hoop
  • Pick a material (not too thick) and thread.
  • Secure fabric in the embroidery hoop.
  • Using a pen or other writing utensil, sketch a pattern on the fabric lightly; this will act as a guide for the pattern.
  • Depending on the design, there could be several stitches used to fill in the design (running stitch, whip stitch, fishbone stitch, woven wheel, etc.)
  • Once finished, Henry adds another fabric to the hoops acting as a backing.

The process

Brianna Henry, 27, started embroidery three years ago as a way to relax and unwind. Since then, she's started a small business selling her designs.  - Millicent Mckay
Brianna Henry, 27, started embroidery three years ago as a way to relax and unwind. Since then, she’s started a small business selling her designs. – Millicent Mckay

When Henry is finishing a project, she prefers to finalize the creation in a wooden hoop.

“They’re really simple and pretty and compliment the projects compared to the bright-coloured, plastic ones. But when I’m in the process of making something, I prefer the plastic ones, because they can hold the fabric really snug, and that’s what you want.”

The hoop must be snug and tight against the fabric to make sure the material doesn’t crease, which can make the process harder and impact the designs, she said.

“I prefer to use cotton or linen because it isn’t super thick. When the fabric is thick, it will be harder to stitch. I typically use quilters cotton and D.M.C. embroidery thread.

“As for needles, get some that are big enough so you can thread the needle, but one that’s not too big that it will leave visible holes in the fabric. I also keep a pair of small, sheer scissors.”

For someone who wants to start an embroidery project but doesn’t have the materials, there are many local Canadian artists that can supply them with the materials, pdfs, and kits.

“I’ve been seeing a lot of kits become available to people wanting to give it a try. I think it (and other hobbies like this) are being sold a lot more and becoming more popular because people are looking for a way to relax.

“And it’s an awesome craft because it’s portable. You can do it where ever you want.”

She said those looking to try a new hobby, including embroidery, shouldn’t be a perfectionist.

“If I could go back and tell myself anything, it would be just that, not to be such a perfectionist. Just have fun and be creative. Don’t be so concerned about the end result. Make it about the process and get enjoyment out of it. Use it as a way to relax or learn.”


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Art Works opens to provide opportunities for youth, adults – Belleville Intelligencer



Belleville Chamber of Commerce CEO Jill Raycroft, Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith, Belleville Councillor Garnet Thompson and Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis were on hand Saturday to help Chris Bennett officially open Art Works at 257 North Front St.

jpg, BI

Local dignitaries gathered on Saturday to celebrate the grand opening of Art Works, the city’s newest Art Centre.

Joining owner Chris Bennett for the official ribbon cutting was Belleville Chamber of Commerce CEO Jill Raycroft, Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith, Belleville Councillor Garnet Thompson on behalf of the City of Belleville and Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis.

Bennett, a familiar name in the local art scene is the creator behind many of the amazing murals seen around the city. Bennett has been a self-employed muralist, dancer, performing and multi-faceted artist and performing artist in the Belleville area for more than 25 years.

Bennett’s dream has always been to provide arts opportunities for youth and adults, helping them grow and discover their passions through inspiration, education and the freedom to express themselves.

Art Works is his dream come true.

“Art Works reflects how well I am personally doing as an artist; to be able to give back and provide a space for all aspiring and established artists to grow from and to be the influence to our community that I did not have growing up in the Quinte area by creating a studio like no other,” said Bennett.

Check out Art Works on Facebook (—Entertainment/Art-Works-203932277210806/). Art Works is located at 257 North Front St. in Belleville.

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